Academic journal article Rural Educator

Multicultural Education for Rural Schools: Creating Relevancy in Rural America

Academic journal article Rural Educator

Multicultural Education for Rural Schools: Creating Relevancy in Rural America

Article excerpt

The mobility of capital today has meant that unprecedented numbers of low-wage, low-skill jobs continue to be created in the nation 's rural areas, and these jobs are often filled by culturally and linguistically diverse individuals. As a consequence, many rural areas are becoming just as diverse today as urban areas. The changing demographics have prompted efforts to incorporate multicultural education into the curriculum of schools where ethnic diversity exits. However, research suggests that rural schools in homogeneous populations are more likely to hold negative views of multicultural education. This article examines the history of multicultural education and the many schools of thought within multicultural education for the purpose of developing an approach better suited to rural schools.


How relevant is multicultural education for rural schools? A national study of 50 state departments of public instruction found that personnel from all-White school districts did not view multicultural education as important (Ayalon, 1993). Similarly, Fred Yeo (1999) found rural school administrators indifferent to multicultural education due to the absence of diversity in their student populations while more recent research links school size with principal's perceived support for multicultural education. In their attempt to uncover attitudes of school administrators, Carlos McCray, James Wright, and Floyd Beachum (2004) found that secondary school principals' support for multicultural education differed based on school size with principals in rural schools more inclined to have negative perceptions of multicultural education than their counterparts in urban and suburban communities. McCray, Wright, and Beachum (2004) found that principals in larger urban and suburban communities were more positive about multicultural education because larger schools meant a higher likelihood of having a student population that was more culturally and ethnically diverse.

Increased diversity in the school population has a profound effect on school's attention to ideas and strategies associated with multicultural education. According to Harmon (2001) multicultural education has become the "hot topic" for rural areas experiencing a rapid increase in the racial and ethnic diversity in their student population. Examples of this are becoming more prevalent in areas once considered to be rural and homogeneous. One such community in the upper Midwest where the Hispanic population has grown to be the majority, the school district has implemented a dual language classroom where teachers teach using Spanish in the morning and English in the afternoon. Another large school district in South Dakota is now planning a Spanish only kindergarten that immerses the students in the language all day every day.

While changes are occurring in schools with increased student population, rural places without the "visible" diversity remain indifferent. Research by Ayalon (2003) suggests that limited attention to rural issues in multicultural education could be to blame for the indifference in rural schools. In his study of multicultural textbooks for teacher education programs, Ayalon (2003) found that the rural perspective was often missing in many of the highly regarded texts while the urban context was usually clearly acknowledged. In addition, white teacher education students from rural areas expressed concerns over the irrelevance of the multicultural education textbooks to their work in rural communities (Ayalon, 2003). Which begs the question; how relevant is multicultural education in rural schools?

Multicultural education is an important curriculum consideration in rural schools when students with a first language other than English enter schools districts. However, as often portrayed, it appears to be a curriculum fix for a student population "gone diverse" with diversity defined in the narrowest of cultural definitions; race and language differences. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.